O was charged with an offence often described as ‘money laundering’, and faced an indictment before the Woolwich Crown Court. A retrial was required, an unusual event, which can often occur where a jury remain undecided on a person’s guilt.
History of the case
O had been charged with an offence of Converting Criminal Property, contrary to section 327(1) (c) of the Proceeds of Crime Act – more commonly known as ‘money laundering’. There were a number of co-defendants, each charged with the same offence. He had been the primary defendant and whose name appeared first on the indictment.
A fraudster (‘Z’) had infiltrated a conveyancing transaction between a solicitor and their client. Z had recreated the style and tone of the solicitor’s language in his email messages to the client. He had then provided information to the purchaser that the solicitor’s firm had just changed its bank. Z provided details of his own account to the purchaser and this account had been specifically set up to receive the proceeds of fraud. A substantial amount of money was consequently transferred into Z’s bank account, where it remained for a short time before being transferred into the bank accounts of a number of others. The police had identified that one of those accounts belonged to O.
The Crown Prosecution Service (‘CPS’) presented that O had received a sum of money into his account and had then transferred a second, smaller sum, back to Z. It alleged O had agreed to launder Z’s ‘dirty’ money in return for a small fee; that agreement could be proven by reference to the transactions themselves, with the reduced amount of money returned to Z reflecting the deduction of O’s fee for laundering the proceeds of the fraud.
O instructed Duncan Lewis, denied the allegation and explained his circumstances. He had known the man referred to as a businessman but had no knowledge of his involvement in crime. We assisted in identifying O’s defence and promoting that: in short, that he had legitimate business transactions with the man and specifically, demonstrated that the suspicious transactions between O and Z were legitimate.
After an initial trial which was abandoned due to police failures to disclose relevant material and CPS failures to manage that disclosure, a four week trial took place. After a jury had heard our client’s defence, the CPS was unable to persuade it that O was guilty, and he was acquitted.
The claimant was represented by Graeme Rothwell, solicitor in our Dalston branch. The client was originally represented by barrister David Gottlieb of Thomas Moore Chambers at trial. At the second trial, he was represented by barrister Charlotte O’Connor of Furnival chambers.
The first trial had to be abandoned many weeks in, when it was discovered that the police disclosure officer had failed to disclose relevant evidence, contrary to legislation and to his standards of professional behaviour.
Some of the other co-defendants had pleaded guilty to the offence and a number of others were found guilty after trial. They received various sentences at Woolwich Crown Court.
Graeme Rothwell, Duncan Lewis Solicitors’ Action Against Public Authorities solicitor, is experienced in matters concerning criminal defence and claimant litigation against the police and other public authorities where there are allegations of misconduct.
He is a strong advocate and a strategic litigator, characterised by his dedicated approach to assisting those who have been affected by criminal allegations or misconduct of a public authority.
For expert legal advice on any allegation, or claim or complaint against a public authority, contact Graeme on 020 7275 2886 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
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